Latest update: January 25th, 2012
Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon, speaking recently at a Likud Anglo event, talked at length about the most pressing issues currently facing Israel.
Yaalon discussed four primary challenges facing Israel today: The current upheaval in Arab States in the region; the Iranian threat; the stalled attempts at progress with the Palestinians; and the internal dialogue and general morale of the Israeli body-politic.
“Westernism” and other “isms”
Ya’alon identified the root cause of Israel’s current problems, real or perceived, as being derived from a “corrupted conceptual basis of thinking” he termed “Westernism”. He stated that the two main foundations of Westernism are “Solutionism” and “Now-ism”, both of which distract Israel from perceiving reality as it is and working towards implementing realistic and sustainable policies.
The corrupting nature of Westernism – though foreign to Middle East culture – has penetrated all sectors of Israeli society, said Yaalon , but is especially prevalent and potent in the media, academia and in political discourse.
Solutionism is the conviction that all problems can be solved: “If we sent a man to the moon and invented the iphone, can we not solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? Only God can solve certain problems, but the Western Mind believes if can solve anything.”
Now-ism refers to the fact that “nowadays, when we are hungry and want food, we put something in the microwave and we quickly have it; likewise we want solutions now, not later, not with difficulty, not with deliberation and patience.”
Yaalon further delineated eight related aspects of Westernism: wishful thinking; naiveté, ignorance of basic historical and social facts; political-correctness; patronizing cultural relativity (“Our jihadist enemies are just too weak and oppressed to be held accountable”); appeasement (when the West seeks a solution, it immediately focuses on what it must relinquish to or tolerate from its enemies, without demanding reciprocity or compromise); denial (the choice to simply ignore the clear language of Iran, Hamas, Abbas, etc.); and finally, “document-ism” (all solutions for peace are codified in signed documents produced by experts, conferences, and various committees).
The result of corrupted thinking
Yaalon stated that the outcome of this corrupted conceptual paradigm of thinking is two-fold: First, we cannot properly know what to do or how to act effectively, and secondly, Israel will tend to fall into the trap of “self-blame”, as we are generally the stronger party in the conflicts we face with other political entities in the Middle East. Furthermore, the inevitable result of such self recrimination is the scourge of outright blame, condemnation, and delegitimization from Israel’s myriad detractors in the West and in the Islamic world, appearing increasingly in the form of blatant anti-Semitism. This development is bad for Jews globally, not just for Israel.
The antidote for the ills of Westernism, Yaalon said, is a vigorous defense of, and renewed commitment to, the ideals of Zionism, our spiritual, moral, and ethical heritage, and the renewal of faith in the justness of our state and our cause in the world, instead of placing our hopes in documents, international organizations, or media accounts.
Other thoughts on the Arab World, Syria, Iran, and the Palestinians
In the Q&A session following his speech, Moshe Yaalon made the following points:
1) In relation to the so-called “Arab Spring” (which he termed an “Islamic Winter”) Yaalon said that we are witnessing a collapse of the Arab nation-state System, which was imposed on the region by European powers after the two World Wars. This system is alien in a region where political realities are shaped more by tribal alliances, Sunni versus Shi’ite fault lines, and strong ethnic identities like Arab, Turk, Kurd, Persian, Druze, Alawite, etc.
2) The collapse of the regime in Syria is imminent, as Assad is now illegitimate in the eyes of the Arab world and his regime is predominantly Alawite in a country that is 80% Sunni Muslim—and generally non-jihadist. This collapse will be a serious blow to Iranian influence in our region, and therefore to its proxies Hizbullah and Hamas as well. Israel should entertain no serious fears from the situation in Syria: “Our most secure and tranquil border since 1967 has been that with Syria–with no peace agreement whatsoever in place. How does peace in the Middle East usually come about? — With Big Sticks and Some Carrots,” Yaalon said.
3) Syria, along with the new regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, etc. are “too broke to wage any conventional or terror war with the State of Israel.” Yaalon also stressed that Israel’s military superiority is “based on quality over quantity, and I know well from experience about what I speak. Our F-16 is the best in the world–our plane has an edge even over the U.S. Navy and Air Force–because it has Israeli-developed high-tech modifications in radar, missiles, avionics and more, but most important of all there is a Jewish Pilot in the cockpit.”
4) The Peace Process under the Olso framework is “a huge burden that we [the Likud] inherited and yet we have to maneuver very carefully to avoid losing power by being rash. You cannot turn a big ship around very quickly.” Yaalon praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his ability to offer genuine, good faith negotiations to the Palestinian Authority (which the PA has unequivocally rejected) while maintaining Israel’s continued settlement and development of the whole Land of Israel, consistent with the values of the Likud Party.
5) Addressing the Iranian nuclear threat, Yaalon described three main lines of attack that can be effectively employed: First, complete diplomatic isolation from the international community (“Why is Ahmadinejad welcomed to speak at Columbia University in NYC?”). Secondly, crippling economic sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and Central Bank, as has already been approved by the EU, as well as the US House & Senate, “but not yet by the current US President.” Thirdly, Yaalon stated that there is a very credible military option–even with Israel acting alone–with a high probability of success in permanently halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Yet he cautioned, “it can be difficult to have a credible military option as a real deterrent when many voices within Israel itself are publicly saying that it is not.”
Finally, Yaalon said he was optimistic about Israel’s future. He believes in “the ultimate wisdom of the people,” irrespective of the current level of public political hubris. “We are awakening.”
About the Author: The author is an alternative peace activist specializing in inter-religious dialogue.
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